State College (0-0) at Bethlehem Liberty (0-0)
Time: 7 p.m. Saturday
Coaches: SC — Al Wolski, 10th season; L — John Truby, first season
Last meeting: SC 26, Liberty 7, last season at State College
Key players: SC — Patrick Irwin, QB; L — Andrew Morgan, RB
The skinny: The road to a sixth-consecutive District 6-9 championship begins as the 2012 campaign did for State College, against Liberty.
The Little Lions travel to Bethlehem to face a team they dispatched 26-7 at home to open last season.
Both teams have questions, but the answers may be tougher to come by for John Truby in his first year as Hurricanes head coach.
Last year, State College began a string of eight straight losses for Liberty, which was outscored 197-102 during the stretch.
But the Little Lions can’t overlook the Hurricanes because State College has its own gaps to fill.
Andrew Kelly, Ebrahim Britton and Ryan Goeke are gone after leading a potent ground attack last season. So, too, are the do-it-all tandem of Dan Fry and Darian Herncane.
Senior quarterback Patrick Irwin should bring a measure of stability as State College tries to find playmakers to fill the skill positions.
Irwin threw for 1,484 yards and 17 touchdowns to just six interceptions as a junior. He also added another 428 yards and four more scores on the ground.
Head coach Al Wolski has been pleased with the early play of sophomore running back and wide receiver Jordan Misher, who Wolski said has good vision and speed.
The combination of Irwin and Misher could hurt Liberty, which gave up 245 yards on 45 carries against the Lions last season. In contrast, the Hurricanes mustered just 50 yards on 18 carries.
Defensively, the Little Lions may have lost some key contributors. However, Anthony Misher and Jordan Misher should help on the corners and senior linebackers Pat Begg and Ben Roeshot should fortify the interior.
And with big matchups upcoming against Central Mountain on Sept. 6 and West Virginia Class AAA state champ Martinsburg on Sept. 13, State College will need a glimpse of which players might step up this season.
- Aaron Carter